File-breaking ray confirmed as world’s largest freshwater fish
Fishermen within the Stung Treng area of northern Cambodia made a historic catch on 13 June 2022 after they hauled within the largest freshwater fish to ever be formally recorded.
The feminine large freshwater stingray (Urogymnus polylepis) weighed roughly 300 kg (661 lb) – about the identical as a typical grizzly bear – and had a complete size of three.98 m (13 ft) with tail included, making her longer than a pickup truck!
The outstanding fish, also called a whipray, spanned 2.2 m (7 ft 2 in), which means that if she had been positioned on a ping-pong desk, her outer “wings” would overhang either side by a foot (30 cm).
The record-breaking ray, which is an endangered species, was named Boramy (“full moon” within the Khmer language), owing to each her rounded disc-like form and the early-evening time of her launch.
Though found by locals, the measurements had been taken by a workforce of worldwide ichthyological specialists working as a part of the US-Cambodian “Wonders of the Mekong” venture, in collaboration with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration.
Fisheries biologist Dana Lee, of FISHBIO, was among the many scientists who helped to measure this river monster.
“Catching the primary glimpse of the large stingray because it was pulled from the depths was a magical second for me,” he advised GWR.
“The Mekong has all the time been considerably of a legendary place in my thoughts and this creature virtually appeared just like the river personified.”
“The scale, grace, power and wild power of the animal was in contrast to something I’ve ever skilled.” – Dana Lee, fisheries biologist
This was echoed by large fish professional Dr Zeb Hogan, who presents the TV collection Monster Fish but additionally serves as director of the “Wonders of the Mekong” initiative.
“That is a completely astonishing discovery and justifies efforts to raised perceive the mysteries surrounding this species and the unbelievable stretch of river the place it lives.”
“In 20 years of researching large fish in rivers and lakes on six continents, working with a whole bunch of native scientists and fishermen, that is the most important freshwater fish that we’ve encountered or that’s been documented wherever worldwide.” – Dr Zeb Hogan, Wonders of the Mekong Director
“Whereas fishermen in Cambodia inform tales of stingrays as much as 500 kg [1,100 lb], we have by no means been in a position to confirm these reviews. It’s totally lucky that the ‘Wonders of the Mekong’ workforce was on web site, that the fishermen known as us, and that the stingray was tagged and launched.”
This isn’t the primary record-breaker to emerge from the mysterious, little-explored waterways of mainland south-east Asia.
The earlier largest freshwater fish specimen was a Mekong large catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) present in one other stretch of the Mekong River – that point in Thailand – in June 2005. It tipped the scales at 293 kg (646 lb) and measured 2.7 m (8 ft 11 in) from head to tail.
The Mekong large catfish and the large freshwater stingray now share the file for largest freshwater fish species because it’s at present too shut a name to award it to only one.
They’re frontrunners in a surprisingly crowded subject.
Different contenders embrace a intently associated catfish often called the paroon shark, in any other case recognized (extra ominously) because the dog-eating catfish (Pangasius sanitwongsei). This behemoth bottom-feeder shares an identical geographic vary to its cousin the Mekong large, and is believed to develop to comparable prodigious sizes.
Exterior south-east Asia, South America’s arapaima (Arapaima gigas) is believed to realize a better size than the Mekong’s megafish – as much as 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in) – however weighs considerably much less, within the area of 200 kg (440 lb).
A former prime contender, the Chinese language paddlefish (Psephurus gladius), as soon as native to the Yangtze River Basin, grew to a confirmed size of three m (9 ft 10 in) and likewise weighed c. 300 kg (661 lb) – though a lot bigger, uncorroborated specimens have been reported so long as 7 m (23 ft) and weighing 450 kg (990 lb)!
Nevertheless, in 2020, this species was formally declared extinct, prone to have died out someday between 2005 and 2010 owing to overfishing and habitat loss. This implies it at present holds the unenviable file of the most up-to-date freshwater fish extinction.
Traditionally, one other freshwater fish which will have taken the crown is the European catfish, or wels (Silurus glanis). Russian specimens within the nineteenth century had been reputed to realize lengths of 4.6 m (15 ft) and weights of 336 kg (720 lb) – however at present something over 1.8 m (6 ft) and 90 kg (200 lb) is taken into account giant.
Boramy the super-sized stingray has reignited nationwide delight within the area’s extraordinary wildlife and the important want for conservation efforts.
“This historic occasion highlights the success of USAID’s ‘Wonders of the Mekong’ venture,” mentioned USAID/Cambodia Appearing Mission Director, Hanh Nguyen.
“Cambodia is blessed with unbelievable biodiversity and we’re happy with the workforce’s efforts to advertise sustainable administration and lift public consciousness on the necessary position of the Mekong River.”
In keeping with Dr Hogan, this superlative stingray presents a glimmer of hope for different under-threat megafish.
“It is a motive for optimism. It is a hopeful signal. And it is a sign to us that it is not too late to guard the Mekong River.”
“I hope that this catch raises consciousness in regards to the extraordinary animals that dwell within the Mekong River, the river’s globally vital fisheries, and the significance of a wholesome Mekong River to tens of millions of individuals in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.”
Earlier than the large fish was launched again into the river, an acoustic tag was fitted for the primary time to one among these rays, so scientists can hopefully study extra about this species’ actions, which for thus lengthy have remained as murky because the muddy waters they inhabit.
“We wish to study in regards to the ecology and migration patterns of the species,” Dr Hogan mentioned. “Why is it discovered within the space? What’s its home-range dimension? Is it a sedentary or migratory species? This data can be utilized to develop a conservation plan.”
Dr Hogan and journalist Stefan Lovgren have a e-book about their seek for the world’s largest freshwater fish, titled Chasing Giants (College of Nevada Press), slated for launch in April 2023.
You may study extra in regards to the “Wonders of the Mekong” venture by trying to find @mekongwonders on Fb, YouTube and Instagram.
Picture and video credit score: Wonders of the Mekong, FISHBIO, Sinsamout Ounboundisane, Chea Seila, Doug Demko, Chhut Chheana